Facebook and Google have become effectively a necessity in contemporary life. Indeed, there may be something about an online social network or a search engine that lends itself to becoming a natural monopoly, much like a cable company, a water and sewer system, or a railroad. Should their monopoly features be subject to regulation?
Or should we, as Bloomberg and author Jonathan Taplin explore, should America’s effectively monopoly tech giants be broken up? Economists see this level of market concentration as the culprit behind some of the U.S. economy’s most persistent ailments – the decline of workers’ share of national income, the rise of inequality, the decrease in business startups, the dearth of job creation, and the fall in research and development spending.
The ever-estimable Shelly Palmer has a great way to frame the problem: “The entire Internet is highly centralized. Data are routed through trusted servers on trusted networks. You trust Google with your Gmail. You trust Facebook with your friends. You trust your online banker with your money. You trust your credit card and shopping data to Amazon. You trust Verizon when you access its network. To do business online today is to trust central entities with everything about you and your actions.” The answer to all of this, of course, is the Blockchain.
Meanwhile, check out Facebook’s so-called “digital colonialism” in The Guardian – “not adequately serving the linguistic needs of local populations; featuring a glut of third-party services from private companies in the US; harvesting huge amounts of metadata about users; and violating the principles of net neutrality”.
Elsewhere in LARB, Ron Hogan reviews three recent books on the digital economy: Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, and Brad Stone’s The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World.
Quote: “Torture the data, and it will confess to anything” Ronald Coase; “Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment” Jean Baudrillard
Here’s three really great resources on AI, ML, Neural Networks, and Big Data, well worth bookmarking: 1) Robbie Allan’s Curated List of AI and Machine Learning Resources from Around the Web – links to researchers, organizations, video courses, youtube, blogs, Medium writers, books, Quora, podcasts, newsletters, and conferences;
Princeton University’s eighth “Art of Science” exhibition showcases images scientists generate during their usual course of research in fields from embryology to plasma physics. The “Art of Science” celebrates the visual outputs common to both disciplines. Art and science share a visual language and rely on creative processes. Here, beauty is not an artifact, but a feature of compelling data.
I know Mick Jagger hasn’t made anything of note for over 30 years – but once they were truly amazing – just listen to the daring music and lyrics (and the difference between them and the audience/hosts) in Sympathy for the Devil and Gimme Shelter